https://www.glwd.org/blog/gods-love-celebrates-earth-day-matriark-foods/

Cook Denise Bailey with boxes of Matriark upcycled vegetable broth

4.20.21 / Nutrition

God’s Love Celebrates Earth Day: Matriark Foods

At God’s Love, we recognize that taking care of the health of our clients means being the best possible stewards of our shared planet. Over the last couple of years in particular, we have increased our focus on sustainability and environmentalism.

This Earth Day, we are thrilled to share that we’ve started a new partnership with Matriark Foods, a company that sells delicious broth concentrates made from upcycled vegetables.

The cost of food waste to our earth is immense. From the pollutants that enter the soil and watershed from intensive agriculture, to the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere when organic matter slowly breaks down in landfill. To cut down on our waste, we have a digester on-site in our kitchen, but we’re excited to work with a company that is actively designing waste out of the larger food system, turning vegetable remnants that might otherwise be thrown away  into something both delicious and nutritious.

To mark this Earth Day, we asked Anna Hammond, co-founder of Matriark Foods, to talk to us about sustainability, our collaboration, and why she founded this wonderful company.

What was the inspiration for Matriark Foods?

Before launching Matriark, I was the executive director for the Sylvia Center – where I built a healthy eating program for youth and families living in public housing in NYC. The program was based on the premise that if you’re living on a budget and you don’t know how to cook, it’s very difficult to eat healthy food in a regular way. The program also had a farm upstate where we brought kids to learn about growing healthy food – and there was a lot of extra produce on that farm that we donated to foodbanks – but those foodbanks didn’t have enough room to store and distribute everything that was available – so I saw firsthand the massive amount of vegetables that are wasted, just due to logistics. I founded Matriark to stop this food from being wasted, by using it to produce healthy, shelf-stable vegetable products that would be affordably priced and give more people access to the healthy food they deserve.

What does waste mean?

Waste means irresponsible, uncreative, and spoiled. I know that sounds harsh! But there’s no reason that anything that uses natural resources, labor, and transport fuels should be wasted – because of the catastrophic impact on the environment and because there are so many people on the planet who need healthy food.

Can you talk a bit about the nutritional value of your concentrate?

Our first product is a low-sodium vegetable broth concentrate made with real vegetables (no juices or extracts) and tastes just like a homemade broth.  Sodium is a huge issue in most diet-related illness, as you know, and lack of vegetables as well. So if food service providers use our concentrate instead of the pastes they’re currently using, there will be an enormous impact. Of course, you have to get people used to different flavor profiles (fresher) and price point (we’re not yet big enough to be able to compete completely against industrial food producers) but talk to the nutritionists who are hammering away at this issue! We’re developing more products out of surplus and remnants that will increase access to more vegetables, more fiber, more nutrients and nutrition is the top priority.

What does Earth Day mean to you?

I went to the first Earth Day celebration in 1970 with my father, who was a poet and loved nature. So Earth Day has a very personal resonance for me from since I was a child. I remember him saying to me “every day should be earth day”, meaning that we should honor nature  and people every day. So our mantra is: At Matriark, every day is earth day.

What dream do you have for the food system? In New York? In the Northeast? In the country?

I dream of a food system where no food goes to waste, where all people have the right and the access to healthy food. And that’s possible, if we all work together.

What’s your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is anything shared with friends, family, people I work with or places I volunteer. Anything made with vegetables. So ok, I’ll say right now, using some of the recipes chefs are making with the Matriark Foods Upcycled Vegetable Broth Concentrate!

Is there anything you’d like to say to the God’s Love community?

I moved to New York in 1984, just when the AIDS crisis was exploding and the year before God’s Love We Deliverwas founded. I had a couple of friends who were working for GMHC, and I remember the day I heard about what Ganga Stone was doing delivering food on her bicycle to people homebound and dying. I actually made a donation from my paltry salary when I heard about her, I was so inspired! Matriark is thrilled to be working with God’s Love, an organization that has been affecting incredibly vulnerable people’s lives in what is arguably the most critical piece of their care – nourishment. And let’s not forget the joy that food brings. Together we can make it possible for ALL people to eat the healthy food they deserve.

 

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